Views of the Monkeynut

by   Peter R. Lloyd-Davies

Road trip in Europe, 1963 New Hampshire 1998 On Kittens and Cuckoos 2003
Europe 1997 New Hampshire 1999 On the Theater 2004
Disney 2000 New Hampshire 2000 My Uncle Edward 2005
Europe 2000 Seattle 2000 My War Journal 2006
Southwest 2001 New Hampshire 2001 The Current Unpleasantness, 2009 2007
Cape Cod 2002 Seattle 2002 More cat thoughts, 2014 2008
Opila reunion 2002 New Hampshire 2003 Why I can't afford to run for office, 2014 2009
Christmas 2002 Toni in Alaska, July 2008 Socialism in South America 2010
Honk! - February 2003 The Geezers ride again, 2009 Thoughts on immigration 2011
July 4 2003 2012
Maine, August 2003 2013
Lake Winnipesauke, 2004 2014
Russell is 90, Sept 2004 2015
Europe, August 2005
A mighty wind, 2006
Turkey, 2007
Xmas 2007 pictures
Mike's graduation, June 2008
Puerto Rico, January 2011
In and around Austin, 2011
Romping with the dinosaurs, 2012
Trip to Southeast Asia, 2012
We belatedly celebrate our arrival in Texas
Off to New Mexico in August, 2013
Big Bend National Park, April, 2014
Antonia in Cameroon, 2014
Europe, 2015
Skydiving, 2016
Our trip to Italy in June, 2016
Lynch reunion in Sugarland Texas, 2016

Views of the Monkeynut presents a vivid multimedia adventure unfolding the splendor of the Lloyd-Davies and Lynch atomic family, featuring, as the nucleus, Peter and Louise; as the electrons, Madeleine and Antonia. Discover the agonies and ecstacies of their latest travels, or study the history of their adventures from conception to the present through a vast archive of photographs, scientific facts, questionable rumor, text, graphics and videos.





New from the Monkeynut, Christmas 2016. Madeleine and Juliet arrived from New York on the 23rd for Christmas. On Christmas Day, Madeleine made some wonderful quiches for breakfast/lunch, which we ate while opening our presents from Santa. There was even a gift from the president-elect - a Trump chia bust. As we have done in the past, we split up the cooking responsibilities for Christmas dinner - I smoked some chicken on our new smoker and made mashed potatoes; Louise made her celebrated vegetable casserole; Madeleine made some spicy cabbage and Antonia made some spiced mushrooms. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the day was that we turned the air-conditioning on as the temperature topped 80.

Louise's new Cubs glass The Christmas agave The Christmas Trump Peter, now retired

For me, the most exciting moment of the holiday season was as the ball fell in Times Square to ring in the new year - marking the official beginning of my retirement! Of course, I still am a partner in Madison Associates, which means that I will never really be retired until I sell off my partnership interest. But I no longer feel responsible for the day-to-day workings of the company and am planning to take some longer trips that I haven't been able to do while fully employed.

New from the Monkeynut, December 2016. We have finished yet another home improvement project! (Trumpets blare off-stage.) At the back of our house, the ground falls away into a ravine, leaving us hardly enough level space to walk next to the house. We have a nice deck, which allows us to sit outside and watch the squirrels romping in the treetops, but nothing to stroll on. So we decided earlier this year to try to reclaim some territory from the ravine. We got some plans drawn up for a retaining wall that would allow us to extend level ground out to about 20 feet from the back of the house. We engaged a local mason who has done similar projects in the neighborhood and who is very well-regarded. He had a gang of about eight men who arrived at 7 in the morning and worked all day in the blazing sun. First, they mapped out the base of the retaining wall and dug down to bedrock so they could jackhammer anchors for the rebar. They poured a flat base of concrete for the wall and then started placing rows and rows of cinderblock, interspersed with rebar. When they had placed the last row, they filled the blocks with concrete. Then they could start filling the space in front of the wall - first with rocks, then with fill dirt, then a weed barrier and finally a few inches of crushed granite.

Once construction was finished, we felt the need to celebrate it, so we scheduled a ground-warming party for December 3rd. We had thought it would be nice if our guests could stroll around on the new space but it turned out to be rainy and chilly, so they were happy to limit themselves to admiring it from our windows. But I think a good time was had by all.

Fine new smoker New sitting area

New from the Monkeynut, election day 2016. As usual, the run-up to the election has been the cause of a certain amount of family rancor. Actually, to start with there was little argument between me and the rest of the family, since it has always been so hard to take Trump seriously as a candidate, from the very first Republican debate all the way to election day. I kind-of liked his rude, in-your-face style, so different from the usual professional politician reciting sound bites written by his consultants. But I found it hard to warm to his ideas, which always seemed to be formed at the moment of utterance and which appeared to have no defining core principles. His character failings, which were constantly on display, made him seem unsuitable for high office. So I had no particular interest in voting for him, and was not interested in defending him from the scorn heaped upon him by the rest of the family.

I also had no interest in voting for Hillary Clinton who seemed to me to be bent on extending all the worst features of Obama's presidency - doubling down on Obamacare, more spending for the benefit of Democratic voters and more antipathy towards business. So my path was clear: to throw away my vote on Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president.

As the election got closer and it became increasingly difficult to laugh Trump's candidacy off as a temporary sideshow, I started fighting my way through all the accusations of racism, xenophobia, lechery, lunacy and downright evil in order to think a little more carefully about what he was saying he would do if elected. I concluded that his main trumpetings came down to the following:

  1. The existing immigration laws should be enforced and legal immigration should be reduced so that the percentage of immigrants in the US is closer to its historical norm.
  2. Trade deals have harmed Americans and should be reconsidered.
  3. The second amendment should be reflected in the law of the land.
  4. Abortion, especially late term abortion, is murder and should not be sanctioned by law.
  5. We need vast spending on infrastructure.
  6. We need lower business taxes to stimulate job growth.

None of these struck me to be the ravings of a lunatic; in fact, I wrote up my own thoughts on immigration that you can read here. The list of policies above are not exactly those my libertarian leanings would prescribe, but they are not the big statist policies I abhor either. I also gave serious consideration to the argument that Trump would probably nominate candidates for the Supreme Court who cared about the constitution, which would preserve the freedoms I cherish and which I believe are the foundation of America's historical success.

In the end, though, I was too worried about the uncertainty surrounding a Trump presidency to consider voting for him. Would he like to be Mussolini? Probably, although the U.S. constitution would most likely prevent him from achieving it. Would he advance policies that are stupid and poorly thought-out? Probably, although again he would be checked and balanced by the congress. (I imagine that Democrats who have cheered on Obama for using executive orders to get around his conflicts with the Republican congress are having second thoughts right about now.) But having another determined rookie president seems like a bad idea, so I decided to stick with Gary Johnson.

So, on the evening of November 8, I announced that I didn't have a dog in the race and that I was going to bed. Louise and Antonia were all excited about the inevitable coming of President-elect Clinton the second and I knew that if I stayed around I would spoil their party and have no fun myself. I hopped into bed and went to sleep. At some point, Louise came into the bedroom all agitated and said that she was afraid Trump was going to win. Like that's going to happen! I said scornfully, and she returned to the TV. I did notice, just before conking out again that the level of joyous conversation was strangely subdued.

In the morning, I got up to go to work and Louise opened one eye and said - he really did win, just like I said. Then it started to sink in. President-elect Trump! Holy crap - who saw that coming?!!! My guess is that there were a lot of regular Republican #NeverTrumps that had second thoughts in the voting booth, swallowed hard and cast their ballot for Trump. So we now embark on a new voyage into the unknown! May the force be with us!

New from the Monkeynut, Houston, October 21-23 2016.Largely as a result of Louise's inspiration, there was a Lynch family reunion at Sugarland, Texas. There is already a sizeable Lynch contingent in Texas, but Louise reached out to the branch of the family still in Chicago and others in other parts. The main event was in Sugarland Memorial Park, at rented pavillion, on Saturday afternoon. The weather was perfect and a good time was had by all. And the cherry on top? The Cubs won the pennant and are off to the World Series! (And, as we now know, won it.) Louise has been waiting for this day since she was a little girl in 1908 and ran screaming around the hotel until she was exhausted. More details here.


New from the Monkeynut, Galveston, August 2016. Louise and I took a trip to the Houston area this past weekend. Our main objective was to attend Louise's cousin Margaret's birthday on Sunday, but Louise had never been to Galveston before, so we decided to leave early Saturday and drive to Galveston. The weather was iffy, not perfect for a trip to the beach, but we would be able to stay in city of Galveston and do touristy things there if we could not go to the beach.

The drive started out badly, getting stuck in road work on Route 71 in the pouring rain. But the rain let up and the traffic got unsnarled and we made it down to Galveston in time for a late lunch. We were staying at the Tremont House in the center of town, walking distance to many attractions. But the weather improved, with sun and a brisk wind that made the heat quite bearable, so we decided we'd start with the beach. So we drove down the beach a while and parked and strolled on the sand. I reminisced about my glory days at Rice when we would often pop down to Galveston for the day, lounge on the beach and get terribly sun-burned - those were the days! I also remembered that there were often patches of tar on the beaches that we would get on our feet and then transfer to cars, rugs and everything else we owned. We encountered no tar, I am pleased to report, but with the aid of the wind we managed to get sand into every orifice of our bodies. It's a workman-like beach - road here, beach here, water there - not much like the Riviera - but it was uncrowded and very pleasant.

Later on, we returned to the hotel and walk around the town. We had opportunities to buy many silly T-shirts which we declined. We also went into an old-fashioned candy store called La King's. It was very crowded but with a happy vibe and we bought huge ice creams that eventually we decided to call dinner. After dinner, we went up to the roof-top bar in our hotel, which gave us pleasant views of the city and where we chatted with another couple who were celebrating their 34th anniversary. (Our 35th is coming up in another couple of weeks.) They had planned to spend it in New Orleans but a huge storm there had deposited over 20 inches of rain and much of the city was flooded. Gee, we thought - hope that storm isn't headed our way. Just then, the manager came around and said they'd be closing the rooftop in a few minutes and could we please settle up and go downstairs. The reason turned out to be that a huge storm was headed our way. Sure enough, no sooner were we safely back in our room than the skies opened and it bucketed with rain all night.

Sunday morning, it was still drizzling and we walked around town a little more, seeing these gigantic cruise ships that were about to depart. We also saw a very interesting movie documentary about the tragic storm of September 1900, when much of the city was destroyed with a loss of life estimated at more than 6,000 people.

On the beach Rooftop bar The Carnival Breeze

Next, off to Missouri City, about an hour away, for Margaret's party. Most of the Texas Lynches were there, hosted by Larry and Joan and featuring some fine barbeque. Larry took the picture below, showing Margaret, Roger and Joan; the kids; and all the onlookers in the mirror behind Margaret.

New from the Monkeynut, Socialism in 2016. Since Bernie Sanders did such a good job convincing young people that they wanted to be socialists, I thought I'd post an article I read recently about socialism in South America. Check it out here.

New from the Monkeynut, our trip to Italy in June 2016. Earlier this year, we received an invitation from an old friend, Mary Clark, who had been in law school with Louise, to visit her and her husband Craig Shaffer at their place in Tuscany. We were delighted to accept and scheduled a two week trip in June. We planned to spend most of that time near their house in the mountains, plus some additional sight-seeing in Florence and Rome. Mary and Craig spend most of the year in Washington DC, but make several trips to Italy throughout the year. We spent several Skype sessions with them before we left in which they gave us lots of excellent ideas on how we might spend our time.

Their house turned out to be a jewell, perched up high in a perfect mountain valley with a waterfall and stream gurgling through the yard. To get to it, however, required superhuman driving skills on a winding road only occasionally wide enough for two cars to pass each other; fortunately Craig was up to the task. The local business is marble, which has been extracted for hundreds of years to adorn beautiful buildings all over the world as well as providing raw material for sculptors from Michelangelo on down.

After we finally said our goodbyes to Mary and Craig, we found ourselves in a different kind of vacation. Florence and Rome were hot and crowded, there were tourists everywhere and we were exhausted all the time from pounding through one museum or another. But we saw so many amazing sights that we will keep with us for ever. Details here.

New from the Monkeynut, The Uber war, May 2016. A couple of years ago, Uber and Lyft came to Austin, causing quite a stir. People were excited to have such a cool app on their phone, allowing them not only to summon a ride, but to see exactly where the driver was coming from, how long before he arrived, his name and photo. It was also extremely convenient having the payment taken care of automatically, rather than having to fumble around in the back seat with your wallet. Others were excited to have a chance to pick up a few bucks doing the driving. And some (like myself) were delighted to see a new business model thrive - one that cut out a large part of the unnecessary overhead present in the taxi industry, specially marked cars, and, above all, the imposition of local government regulations designed to curtail competition. (I remember at one time when I lived in New York, the market value of a taxi medallion was a million dollars - a measure of the excess profits per taxi going to the cab companies because of the limited number of taxis allowed on the road. And guess who was supporting that million dollar valuation? - riders, of course.)

And then came the change in the way that the Austin city council members were elected and our district elected Ann Kitchen, a reliable advocate for piling on the regulations. She discovered that Uber's own vetting process did not include fingerprinting of driver applicants. Uber's comeback was that their drivers are mostly part-timers and that they would resist the bother of having to go through additional checks. But the council decided to require fingerprinting anyway.

So the war began. Uber and Lyft said that the economics wouldn't work if fingerprinting is required and so they will have to leave Austin. The next shot fired was heralded by a knock at the door. I answered it and it was a guy representing Uber gathering signatures for a petition to require a referendum on this issue, which I was happy to sign. The petition was successful and the referendum was scheduled for May 7.

Now the most disagreeable part of the war began - the war of words on our listserv. Not that the words were offensive in the normal sense but that so many of the posts demonstrated such a radically different approach to regulation than my own. My own views were perfectly summed up by my daughter Antonia (another economist), who said - "If you guys don't believe that Uber is being sufficiently thorough vetting the drivers, feel free not to use them. But don't deprive me of an opportunity to use them if I am willing to take the chance." Right on, say I. But the majority of posters began carping about how fingerprinting isn't such a big deal - why can't those lazy drivers put up with it? Then a counterpunch from Uber - the vetting process currently takes about a week. However, when Houston insisted on doing fingerprinting, the period stretched out into months. Then the posters started to get offended that Uber and Lyft spent a lot of money trying to influence the referendum. Duh! Then a piece by Uber, showing that a number of licensed taxi-drivers had applied to drive for Uber and one third of them had been rejected by Uber for reasons including felony convictions. Things kept getting hotter on the listserv until the righteous were declaiming against the enslavement of Austin by big unfeeling ridesharing corporations.

Today was the vote - I think that some other areas of town may have approached the issue a little more rationally than ours, but I still give it only a 50-50 chance. Not for nothing the town is known in other parts of Texas as the Peoples' Republic of Austin.

Addendum: the results are in and the evil corporations were defeated, along with myself, other Uber users and all Uber drivers. A sad day for freedom.

New from the Monkeynut, The Google has Landed, March 2016. For the last few months, there have been rumors in the 'hood of people getting hooked up to Google Fiber and soaring off into hyperspace. Finally, our turn has come and on March 2, the installers arrived at our house. The whole process was pretty painless - they ran the fiber cable into my study and hooked it up into our new Google modem. Then I just unplugged our switch from the Time Warner modem and plugged it into the new modem. Presto! Both download and upload speed somewhere around 900 megabits per second! Take us to warp seven, Mr. Sulu.

After that, the installers ran cables to our TVs, disconnected the TW cable boxes and replaced them with much smaller Google boxes, as well as making sure that Louise had a full-speed hard-wired connection that now has her swooning with delight. (Her old Wi-fi connection was spotty at best.) I then set up a new Wi-fi point for the Google box and migrated various devices over from the old Wi-fi to the new. The installers gave me a brief tutorial on using the new Google TV remote, which seems adequately intuitive. The we all shook hands and off they went. Who was that masked man?

We still have our TW modem which we are still using for our phone service. However, I have signed up with Ooma for a replacement business line and have begun the process of porting my business number over to it. When that is done, we will return all TW's equipment to them, which means that our old home line, 512 215-2068, will be jettisoned. Most of the calls we get on it are spam, so we have decided to rely on our cell phones instead. All, please be advised that the old number will not be available after somewhere around March 15.

New from the Monkeynut, Skydiving in January 2016. Antonia has been busying herself in Austin, making friends, applying for jobs, doing the clubs. Finally, though, she decided it was time to cash in her Christmas present from 2014, which was a skydiving trip. She and I tried to make it happen last year, but were thwarted by the combination of bad weather and limited time before she had to return to Cameroon. Now, however, the weather turned sunny and mild and so we made reservations with Skydive San Marcos. As Antonia recounts in her Facebook post: "They said jump. I said how high? They said two miles. I said oh, shit." But jump she did, strapped to the front of an instructor (so she really had no choice at that point). Thirty seconds of freefall, reaching a speed of around 100 miles an hour straight down, then a more leisurely ride under the canopy back to terra firma. We both had big smiles on our faces for the rest of the day.


More pictures here.

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